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What is Schizophrenia? Meaning, Cause, and Treatment

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects the way a person thinks, feels, and acts.

People with this mental disorder interpret reality abnormally, so they may appear disconnected from the real world.
Schizophrenia can also cause a combination of hallucinations, delusions, and abnormal ways of thinking and acting.

Although it can occur at any age, symptoms usually appear in the early 20s for men and the late 20s or early 30s for women. It is very unlikely that schizophrenia will be detected in children under 12 years old or adults over 40 years old.

In some cases, the symptoms of schizophrenia can appear since childhood and become more severe with age. However, these symptoms can appear suddenly.
If not treated immediately, the symptoms can be permanent and cause disability. The sufferers themselves can require long-term treatment. Early treatment can help keep symptoms from getting too severe.

what-is-schizophrenia-meaning-cause-and-treatment

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The symptoms that appear can vary, but here are some common symptoms that usually appear in people with schizophrenia:

Emotional disturbances 

Difficulty empathizing and unable to describe feelings, including disturbances in facial expressions and body gestures.

Hallucinations 

Hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not real.

Delusions 

False beliefs or suspicions even though there is evidence to prove otherwise. For example, feeling hurt, feeling famous, feeling that something bad will happen, and the like.

Abnormal behavior 

Such as walking aimlessly, mumbling incoherently, laughing to himself, difficulty following instructions, strange posture, excessive body movements, or not taking care of one's appearance.

Abnormal speech 

Unclear or disjointed.

Cognitive disorders 

Such as difficulty remembering, difficulty processing information to make decisions, difficulty learning new information and using it, and difficulty focusing.

Positive and Negative Symptoms

Furthermore, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be divided into positive and negative symptoms.
 
Positive symptoms are symptoms that appear beyond reality, for example seeing or hearing something that others can't see, or believing something that other people don't believe.

Meanwhile, negative symptoms are when the sufferer loses the ability to do things normally. For example, sufferers lose motivation or enthusiasm, feel uncomfortable with others, speak flatly and without expression, to neglect personal hygiene. Negative symptoms usually last longer than positive symptoms.

Negative symptoms in people with schizophrenia are often mistaken for other mental disorders such as depression . All of the above symptoms need to persist for at least 6 months before a diagnosis can be made.

For most people with schizophrenia who are unaware of their illness, they will feel symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions are very real. This situation can make it difficult for doctors to convince patients to take the prescribed medication. Especially if they think the drug will be bad for them.

Symptoms of schizophrenia that appear in adolescents are usually more difficult to detect. This is because the symptoms are usually similar to those experienced by puberty teenagers in general. This can be a sensitive mood , difficulty sleeping , lack of motivation, and so on.

Compared to adults, adolescents with schizophrenia are less likely to experience delusions. However, they were more likely to experience visual hallucinations.

Causes of Schizophrenia

Experts still can not identify a specific factor that causes schizophrenia. There are several factors that are known to contribute to increasing the risk of schizophrenia , including:

Environment

Experts assume that the environment around a person can also play a role in the development of schizophrenia.
Some of the environmental factors that influence are poverty, an environment that increases stress, trauma, and exposure to viruses. Lack of nutrition while in the womb can also be a cause, especially in the first and second trimesters.

Descendants

Sometimes schizophrenia runs in families. Genetic studies have found that there are many possible types of genes that are known to increase the risk of this mental disorder.
However, just because one family member has this mental disorder doesn't mean that other family members will have it too.
If you have a close relative who has this mental disorder, you are six times more likely to develop schizophrenia.

Brain structure and function

Differences in brain structure and function as well as neurotransmitter imbalances may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.
In some cases, it is known that there are sufferers who have different sizes of brain parts, different ways of working the brain, and the like.
Differences in connections and circuits in the brain can develop in the womb. Changes in the brain can also occur in adolescence.

Use of drugs

Several studies have found that taking drugs that affect the mind during adolescence can increase the risk of schizophrenia.
Consuming marijuana can also worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia. The younger the age and the more frequent use, the greater the risk.

Types of Schizophrenia

There are several different types of schizophrenia, guidelines from The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) describe them as follows:

1. Paranoid Schizophrenia

This is the most common type of schizophrenia. The most obvious symptoms are hallucinations, especially voice hallucinations, and delusions. The way of speaking and the emotional state of the sufferer may not be affected.

2. Hebephrenic Schizophrenia

This type is usually detected in adolescence or early adulthood. Symptoms include irresponsible and unpredictable behavior, unruly thoughts, difficulty speaking, and self-isolation.

3. Catatonic Schizophrenia

This is the rarest type of schizophrenia. Symptoms can include abnormal body movements, such as suddenly becoming very active or very still. Sufferers sometimes do not even speak at all.

4. Simple Schizophrenia

In this type, negative symptoms can be seen and worsen quickly. While positive symptoms will rarely appear.

5. Undifferentiated Schizophrenia

Patients may show symptoms of paranoid , hebephrenic , or catatonic schizophrenia . Even so, it cannot fully fit into one of these categories.

6. Residual Schizophrenia

This type is diagnosed when schizophrenia has entered an advanced stage. Patients may be included in this category if they have a family history of schizophrenia but only experience negative symptoms.

7. Cenesthopathic Schizophrenia

Patients with this type experience abnormal physical sensations.

8. Schizophreniform

This is a type of psychotic illness with symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia but usually only for a short period of time.

9. Unspecified Schizophrenia

For this type, sufferers experience general symptoms of schizophrenia but do not fit into the categories above.

Schizophrenia Treatment

Because the causes are complex, treatment for schizophrenia focuses more on reducing the symptoms. Treatment is also carried out in order to make the sufferer able to carry out normal routines . Some of the treatments that are usually carried out are:

Antipsychotic Drugs

Antipsychotic medications can help reduce the intensity and frequency of symptoms. These types of drugs are usually given in pill or liquid form that must be taken every day. Some are also injected once or twice per month.

If antipsychotic medications don't work, your doctor may prescribe clozapine (Clozaril). However, the risk is having to undergo regular blood tests to detect possible side effects.
Some of the side effects of antipsychotic drugs are weight gain, dry mouth, tiredness, and drowsiness. This is usually felt when you start taking the drug.

If you feel the effects are too severe, you should not stop taking the drug immediately, but consult your doctor first.
Some of the medications commonly prescribed for schizophrenia are risperidone (Risperdal), olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), ziprasidone (Geodon), and haloperidol (Haldol).

Psychosocial Medicine

Cognitive therapy, ability training, and the like can help with the negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.
Usually this psychosocial treatment is combined with the consumption of antipsychotic drugs.

This psychosocial treatment can greatly help people with schizophrenia to live and carry out normal daily activities.
Regular treatment can reduce the likelihood of symptoms getting worse and requiring hospitalization.

Family Education and Support

Educational programs for the sufferer's family, spouse, and friends usually include instruction about the symptoms and treatment of schizophrenia, as well as strategies for assisting the sufferer. This can help those closest to provide support and reduce stress for sufferers.

If your family or friends have schizophrenia, you can do the following things to help them:

  • Help find if there is a group of people with schizophrenia in the neighborhood
  • Encourage them to want to get appropriate treatment
  • Remember that the hallucinations and delusions that occur feel very real to them
  • Respect and support but remain aware of harmful or inappropriate behavior

Some symptoms, such as wanting to hurt yourself or committing suicide, can be dangerous so it's best to seek help immediately or call the nearest emergency room.

Self-Management Techniques

This technique means the sufferer himself tries to treat himself with the help of advice from a doctor. If you want to try this technique, you can start by:

  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Do relaxing activities
  • Regulate sleeping and eating patterns
  • Exercise regularly
  • Trying to distract yourself if hallucinations appear
  • Write a journal or diary

Is It Possible To Recover From Schizophrenia?

For people with schizophrenia, there is such a thing as clinical healing and personal healing.
 
Clinical cure is based on a doctor's diagnosis stating that your symptoms have disappeared completely, or have reduced so that they do not interfere with daily life.
Meanwhile, personal healing is when sufferers feel that they can return to normal life. This assumption may differ from the point of view of others.

Some of the factors that can influence recovery from schizophrenia are hope for recovery, response to diagnosis, financial stability, relationships with other people, appropriate treatment, and lifestyle.
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